Linguistic Features/Beliefs of dominant nations

Michael Clyne (1992: 459) listed 11 characteristics of the varieties of the dominant nations (D-Nation) that relate to attitudes and beliefs shared by the members of different D-nations in respect of the ND-nations and to differences in language behaviour. The following list has been enlarged by Muhr/Delcourt (2000) (M/D), Muhr (2003) (M) and also presents the features named by M. Clyne (1992) (MC):

  1. Have a large number of speakers (M/MC).
  2. Are varieties of nations which are the country where the language originates (‘historical heartland’) and therefore claim historical rights. (M/MC)
  3. Are native varieties and not nativized ones. (MC)
  4. Have political, economic and linguistic power and therefore high status. (M)
  5. Have a big impact on the general norm of the language. (M/MC)
  6. Practice thorough codification and have many codifying institutions. (M/MC)
  7. Are globally present in the electronic and print media available to a large audience etc. (M/MC)
  8. Spread / export their norms and have many institutions for the dissemination of their norms. (M/MC)
  9. The superiority of the D-variety: D-nations regard themselves as standard and as the custodians of the norms and the norms of the others as ‘deviant, non-standard and exotic, cute, charming, and somewhat archaic’. (MC)
  10. Speakers of D-nations tend to confuse ‘regional variation’ with ‘national variation’. NDV are considered to be nothing more than a ‘regional’ variety and just a case of linguistic divergence. (MC)
  11. D-nations ignore the identity function of national variety (and often find it difficult to accept that the speakers of the ND-nations are members of another nation). (MC)
  12. Variation is thought to be only existent in the spoken norm. (MC)
  13. Norms of the ND-nations are believed to be less rigid. (MC)
  14. Knowledge of language: speakers of DV are not usually familiar with the ND varieties. (MC)
  15. Language change in the DV is perceived as ‘natural’ (and after some time codified) whereas the developments of the ‘non-dominating varieties’ are more or less seen as secessionist and a danger to the unity of the language. (M)
  16. D-Nations have better means of codification as the publishers of grammar books and dictionaries are usually located in D-nations. (MC)
  17. D-Nations have better means to export their language norms as they dominate the language market. This in turn contributes to this high status of the DV which is a source of income and prestige. (M/MC)

(Excerpt from Muhr, 2012)


Clyne, Michael (1992) (ed.): Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations. Berlin et. al.: Mouton de Gruyter.

Delcourt, Christian / Muhr, Rudolf (2001): Introduction. In: Muhr, R./Delcourt, Chr. (2001): Les Langues Pluricentriques. … Fascicle 79/2001 of Revue Belge de Philologie et Histoire. S. 698-709.

Delcourt, Christian / Muhr, Rudolf (eds.): Les Langues Pluricentriques. Variétés nationales des langues europénnes à l’intérieur et à L’exterieur de L’espace européen. Fascicle 79/2001 de Revue Belge de Philologie et Histoire.

Muhr, Rudolf (2003): Erdäpfelsalat bleibt Erdäpfelsalat? Das Österreichische Deutsch. Sein sprachpolitische Situation. In: Busch, Brigitta / de Cillia Rudolf (Hrsg.) (2003): Sprachenpolitik in Österreich. Eine Bestandsaufnahme. Peter Lang Verlang. Frankfurt/M. 196-226. [Erdäpfelsalat remains Erdäpfelsalat? Austrian German. Its language-political situation. In: Busch, Brigitta / de Cillia Rudolf (eds.) (2003): Sprachenpolitik in Österreich. A survey of the current situation. Peter Lang Verlang. Frankfurt/M. 196-226.]